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VARIOUS The Strat Pack Live In Concert
Eagle Vision EREDV464 (2005)
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

Fender DVD

If you're over 40, leaden of tonsure, and an armchair rocker you will appreciate this DVD. It will help also if you prefer the Fender signature on your air-guitar.

Last September, a cast of Fender-o-philes assembled for a celebratory gig at London's Wembley Arena in honour of the Stratocaster and it's 50th birthday and proceeds raised money for the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy.

This DVD souvenir may alienate the true guitar freak and the programming is slightly bizarre. The Crickets and Hank Marvin quickly dispense with the sixties sound before we get an extended Paul Carrack show. I have every respect for Carrack as a vocalist but he isn't associated with a Fender guitar. His partner Mike Rutherford is the one concession here to the brand, and he is hardly its best known exponent. More than that, he doesn't really crank it up either.

Then we get the appearance of Brian May who seems to have a monopoly on these sort of arena-fests. At least he has more hair than most of the audience but, damn it, he isn't known for his Fender affiliation either. When he teams up with Paul Rodgers for a version of 'All Right Now' it seems the plot is lost completely, as Rodgers dedicates it to Paul Kossoff - his former Free bandmate and Les Paul player.

Aside from all this dubious product placement, we do get some respite. Gary Moore plays with his usual passion and is one of the few players to break sweat. Joe Walsh is a surprise success and he does play a Fender whilst David Gilmour ultimately salvages the wreckage with three Floyd pieces where he wrings every last breath from the instrument. Any previous misgivings about this gig are temporarily parked as a result of Gilmour's glorious intervention.

And then Ronnie Wood, again not particularly known for his Strat skills, comes on with a Gibson acoustic.

This DVD is, then, best enjoyed as musical cabaret. It's a straight gig without any bonus material which is a shame as some interviews, vintage footage, and a history of the Strat would have, at least, helped satiate the guitar freak .

For trainspotters, it would be good to compile a list of who they could have invited to the party. Eric Clapton was probably rehearsing for the forthcoming Cream shows but he is the obvious brand champion. Jeff Beck would have been cool, and Ritchie Blackmore would have been, well, Ritchie Blackmore.

The lovely Theresa Andersson (I know I haven't heard of her either but she has a nice pair of legs) is almost the token female with Amy Winehouse but Bonnie Raitt might have been a more authentic addition.

And just when you thought it was safe to hang the toupee, Jamie Cullum plays the Hendrix classic 'Angel'. And there's no sight of a Fender anywhere except the one that's in front of your fire with the pipe and slippers.


Review by David Randall

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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